Jokes You Didn't Know Were Indicators Of Mental Illness
Your sense of humor says a lot about you. For example, if you think comedy peaked with Monty Python, you're likely a huge nerd, or perhaps just old. If you describe your own comedy as "edgy," you're probably a jerk. If you find PewDiePie hilarious, you could have a medical condition doctors refer to as "terminal incorrectness." But these are merely condescending knee-jerk judgments on our part. There are in fact some objective things your sense of humor can tell us about the state of your mind. Obviously, none of them are good.
Love Cringe-Inducing Puns? You Might Have Brain Damage
If you think puns are the absolute pinnacle of humor, you're probably an internet commenter. Thanks for all the input! We got you a gift: It's life-altering brain damage!
It's called "Witzelsucht," which is hopefully German, or else somebody sneezed while typing up that entry in the medical dictionary. For five years, "Derek" would wake his wife up at night to berate her with stupid puns he thought were genius. She convinced him to go to a doctor, which must've been an awkward conversation. "Your jokes are so terrible that something is medically wrong with you," is rarely received well. They discovered that two strokes had damaged Derek's frontal lobe in such a way as to turn him into a Redditor.
Don't see how this is funny in any way? Clearly, you haven't suffered enough strokes.
Damage to the areas of the brain responsible for analytical processing means that Witzelsucht sufferers not only find the simplest jokes hilarious -- namely, slapstick and puns -- but are also unable to "get" more complex forms of humor. In other news, we've discovered the reason nobody thinks we're funny anymore. You have all suffered a series of complicated strokes. Really, it's the only logical answer.
Difficulty Detecting Sarcasm? Could Be Early Stages Of Dementia
According to linguist John Haiman at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, sarcasm is "practically the primary language" of modern society. Aside from the worrying implication that we might all be dicks, there's another problem: Processing sarcasm uses up precious brainpower. When a stranger at the bus stop notices your orthopedic Keds and tells you, "Nice shoes," your brain has to not only process the words themselves, but then factor in his tone of voice, the context, and his body language. If you're not particularly quick on the uptake, by the time your brain finishes deciphering that puzzle and forms an appropriate response -- namely, "Hey, fuck you, buddy" -- you may find that the man has already left. Along with your bus. And most of your dignity.
Your first hint should've been that not even the CEO of Keds would call those things "nice."
It may not be your fault, though. Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco discovered that people with frontotemporal dementia have a particularly hard time detecting sarcasm. Not only that, but other neurological conditions, such as autism, head injuries, brain lesions, schizophrenia, or even a stroke, could be behind your inability to understand teenagers. In other words, the fact that your mom keeps taking articles from The Onion literally may be indicative of a more serious problem than you thought.
"Hi, Shady Springs Retirement home? Mom's ranting about the abortionplex again. I think it's time."
Dark Sense Of Humor? You Could Be A Workaholic
Putting in long hours at a mind-numbing job and tolerating insufferable working conditions is the only way to build character ... is a thing your dad once said before bursting into tears consisting mostly of Jack Daniel's. For most of us, a job is a way to pay the bills. It does not define us. Workaholics are the exception. They exist as a constant reminder of your own debilitating laziness, taunting you with their mystical ability to not spend half the workday playing internet. The tradeoff is that workaholics are the least-fun people to be around. If they ever had a sense of humor, it long ago atrophied into a miserable ball of bleak cruelty.
She only stops working to tweet about the assholes who distract her with their rude-ass existence.
That's not just our jealousy talking. Science has got our back. Psychologists note that workaholics gradually lose their ability to appreciate or create humor. Their sense of humor slowly stagnates into "black humor such as sarcasm, ridicule, or caustic putdowns," which may subconsciously serve to keep "unproductive" non-work-related relationships at bay. Workaholic marriages are much more likely to end in divorce, and children of workaholics are more prone to experience depression as adults. That's what happens when you're on the receiving end of Alec Baldwin's Glengarry Glen Ross monologue every time you screw up the meatloaf.
"The beef was weak? YOU'RE WEAK! Nice kid? I don't give a shit. You wanna live here? Cook!"
In the later stages of work addiction, sufferers can lose their ability to experience any kind of joy at all. Everything becomes about winning, and winning at golf would mean taking time away from winning at work to get good at fucking golf, and what use is that? You can't cash golf. Take your goofy pants and "friendly invitation" and get the fuck out of my office, Gary.
Take Yourself Too Seriously? You May Be A Narcissist
If there's a surefire comedy killer, it's taking yourself too seriously. Good comedy often leverages some level of discomfort -- being unsure of some facet of yourself -- and that's not possible when you're unflinchingly certain that every one of your facets shines more brilliantly than the last.
If you suffer from narcissistic personality disorder, you are essentially locked into appreciating a very narrow range of jokes that do not in any way apply to you. Chances are, you know one or two people who fit that description. They'll be the ones to take offense at the slightest provocation -- no matter how trivial or well-meaning -- and will remember your innocent quip as if you ran over their puppy and then threw it in reverse to make sure you got their cat, too.
Shit, you might be voting for one.
An interesting tangent (and the most reasonable explanation we've ever come across for the existence of Kanye's Twitter): Studies have confirmed that most internet trolls are indeed narcissists, as well as Machiavellianists, psychopaths, and sadists. And buttheads. Just, total buttheads.
No Sense Of Humor? You Might Be Delusional
Some people read Achewood for free, while others pay good money to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. Clearly, humor is subjective. In order for a joke to be funny to you, it must somehow resonate with your "inner values and beliefs." And if you're constantly lying to yourself about what said values and beliefs are, then nothing is funny anymore.
To study how much self-deception affects one's sense of humor, Robert Lynch -- full-time anthropologist, part-time stand-up comedian -- showed a group of college students a Bill Burr routine and ran their reactions through FACS (Facial Action Coding System) to see whether their laughs were genuine ...
... Sure, that sounds awkward, but at least he didn't hit play on his own-stand up routine and then stand there, right in front of them, watching the truth-o-meter. Lynch found that those more likely to practice self-deception were also less likely to genuinely laugh.
That's not to say they didn't laugh -- their laughs simply weren't genuine. Some research posits that we laugh to affirm we're part of a group, so a person who has no qualms about lying to themselves won't hesitate to fake a laugh here and there. To spot the difference, researchers look for something called a Duchenne smile -- an involuntary and genuine smile that happens when both the mouth and the eyes are in on the joke.
On the right: "I enjoy your anecdote and wish you to stay for dinner."
On the left: "Cute. You've got 30 seconds before I release the hounds."
So if you ever want to know if your date truly finds you funny, study their eyes. The caveat being that making prolonged and studious eye contact every time they laugh is the surest way to make a person stop laughing.
Laugh At The Pain Of Others? Oh, Boy ...
How many times have you laughed at the misfortune of others? Incalculable, you say? Okay, how about just the misfortune of your friends and family? Still incalculable? Wow. Based on the rest of this article, where harmless puns mean you might've had a stroke and not enjoying sarcasm practically gives you Alzheimer's, you're probably expecting us to call you a monster. Or at least imply you have some form of brain cancer. But no, shockingly, this is the normal one.
In 1961, Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram convinced study participants that they were delivering a series of increasingly severe electrical shocks to test subjects. Whenever they pushed the pain button, many participants would respond with "nervous laughing fits" that "seemed entirely out of place, even bizarre." Did Milgram, in a sheer stroke of luck, manage to round up every supervillain in greater Connecticut to participate in his demented little experiment?
"Next push delivers a double shock, you say?"
Actually, it's the opposite. Milgram concluded that the giggling wasn't genuine glee at the very concept of hurting people, but decent folks unconsciously trying to convince themselves that everything was OK. V.S. Ramachandran theorized that laughter evolved in part as a signal to defuse threats. You don't laugh when the tiger charges at you -- you laugh when he trips over his own feet and somersaults into a pile of manure like the jungle's Biff Tannen. So it was with the program's participants, who laughed in an effort to convince themselves and those around them that everything was okay, even though it clearly wasn't.
"You're ... singing, right? Yeah, you're ... singing. Such a lovely voice you've got ... when you ... sing ..."
Well, it's either that, or all people are inherently evil and your only recourse is to go full Walden. Maybe make friends with some bears or something. But that seems impractical. If you do figure out what a bear thinks is "cool," though, then drop us a line and we'll follow suit.
For more ways you can self-diagnose yourself, check out 6 Intimate Details You Can Tell Just By Looking At Someone and 18 Products That Say More About You Than You Realize.
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Check out Robert Evans' A Brief History of Vice: How Bad Behavior Built Civilization, a celebration of the brave, drunken pioneers who built our civilization one seemingly bad decision at a time.